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Satisfying shorts from 2018 Sundance fest on tour

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Francisca Iglesias Bouzón appears in “Matria” by Álvaro Gago, a selection from Sundance Film Festival 2018’s short film program opening at the Roxie on Jan. 4. (Courtesy Lucia C. Pan/ Sundance Institute)

The Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour — a rare opportunity to view festival-quality shorts in a theater — comes to San Francisco’s Roxie this week.

Unlike the three annual programs of Oscar-nominated shorts, which viewers can catch in February, the Sundance lineup is a combination platter with live-action, animated and documentary offerings on one bill. This year’s show runs 91 minutes and contains seven shorts. All screened at the 2018 Sundance festival.

Sundance is a major showcase for short films, whose limited running time makes them conducive to risk-taking and first-time filmmaking. Christopher Nolan, Debra Granik, Todd Haynes and Lynne Ramsay are among the established directors who launched their careers with shorts.

A rundown of this year’s Sundance program follows. Some selections are worthier than others, but the collection satisfies overall. “Hair Wolf,” “Fauve” and “Matria” received jury prizes, with “Matria” taking the top shorts award.

Maude: A young woman finds herself baby-sitting for a highly successful high-school acquaintance, whose life and privileged infant she pretends are her own, in this amusing short in which the director also stars. (10 minutes, U.S., directed by Anna Margaret Hollyman)

Baby Brother: The director, who cited Ramin Bahrani’s “Chop Shop” as an influence, turns his lens on his family in the intimate documentary short capturing what occurs when his youngest sibling moves back in with his parents. (14 minutes, U.S., Kamau Bilal)

The Burden: Animals dressed as humans sing and dance in this whimsically original animated short, which suggests the droll Scandinavian works of Aki Kaurismaki and Roy Andersson crossed with a Hollywood musical as its characters cope with their dreary jobs. (14 minutes, Sweden, Niki Lindroth von Bahr)

Hair Wolf: Cultural appropriation is the subject of this comic horror short set at a black Brooklyn hair salon that has attracted a new breed of monster: zombie-like, selfie-taking white women obsessed with making black styles their own. (12 minutes, U.S., Mariama Diallo)

Jeom: A man and his son have the same unsightly birthmark in this supershort animated comedy about the unwanted things we inherit from our parents and the fear that we’ll pass them on to our children. (4 minutes, U.S., South Korea, Kangmin Kim)

Fauve: Raw storytelling combines with visual poetry in this tense story about two country boys whose seemingly harmless one-upmanship game turns nightmarish. (16 minutes, Canada, Jeremy Comte)

Matria: The realist drama brings the works of Ken Loach and the Dardenne brothers to mind as it follows a factory worker as she finds joy amid drudgery in a life that includes a rotten marriage and a despotic boss but also a beloved daughter and granddaughter. (21 minutes, Spain, Álvaro Gago)

Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour
Three stars

Written and directed by: Filmmakers from the U.S., Sweden, South Korea, Canada and Spain
Not rated
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

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